July 11, 2021 in Central City
By Jaclyn Schrock
The charms of a loved church building can take your breath away, because it is not just a building. Being inside, you can join with the others who have been here, to worship God in the spirit, while physically in this place.
We know the stone and stained-glass 2-story church with a bell tower across from the Central City Opera House at 123 Eureka Street, just downhill from the Old Courthouse to be St. James United Methodist Church.
To get to the church we are on a two lane steep hill street, with parallel parking on both sides. You likely had to park some ways away, and walk the steep hill to get to the church. All the buildings you passed in the neighborhood are historic structures.
Wes Broderius opened the service with “Simple Gifts from Appalachian Spring” on the 1899 pipe organ, filling the atmosphere with worship, and joyful praises of God.
Central City Mayor Jeremy Fey officially recognized Dr. Scott for the contributions of St. James Methodist Church to the history and goodwill presence in Central City.
As Mike Keeler said to open the Homecoming Sunday Service at 10 am, “Let time roll back the clock to 1859; take away the paved streets, the noise of the automobile engines, and the veneer of civilization.”
“Imagine if you will a different time when gold was calling men from far and wide. There were few women and many, many men in Central City. At the dusty location of the Gregory diggings, worshipers desperately wanted an organized church in which to worship.”
“The second weekend in July 1859, an Eastern reporter named Libeus Barney witnessed the first sermon of Jacob Adriance and William Goode. Adriance and Goode were circuit riding preachers, preaching at the intersection of the new streets christened Eureka, Main and Lawrence.”
At this point in the service, Wes Boderious moved to the piano so voices could be coaxed rather than over run by the organ’s grand sound. Everyone stood up to sing lyrics printed in the bulletin along with Katherine Holobinko and Robert Harfield from the Central City Opera.
As we heard the tune begin for “The Battle Hymn of the Republic,” we all joined in to sing, “The Circuit Riding’ Preacher.”
The Circuit ridin’ preacher used to ride across the land, with a rifle on his saddle and a Bible in his hand. He told the prairie people all about the promised land, as he went riding, singing down the trail.
The Circuit riding’ preacher traveled thru the mire and mud, told about the fiery furnace and of Noah and the flood. He preached the way to heaven was by water and the blood, as he went riding, singing down the trail.
The parishioners of St. James on July 11, 2021 were about 45 in number, with less than 10 dressed in modern clothing. Most attempted to demonstrate what the long-ago miners wore to simply get to Central City, while others had the sophistication of an educated man, including Mike Keeler and Rev. Dr. Scott Schiesswohl.
Most ladies in attendance had a lovely bonnet to suggest the traditions for women in our past. Female attire often included elegant lace. Outfits ranged from the simple women who sewed her own dress modestly covering most skin, to the elegant ladies who would have come into the high mountain community on the steam engine’s train car, rather than the stage coach or walking beside the mule.
The names of pastors and their history with St. James were retold through the service, including one traveling preacher who spoke in Central City in the morning, then Nevadaville in the afternoon, then back in Central for evening again.
Mr. Keeler included details of the beautiful stained glass windows, and the efforts it took not only to build the church building, but also to maintain it all these years.
Aunt Clara Brown was among the original members to contribute worship space in her home, then money for property on which to build the church.
Many ladies over the decades have helped with fundraising for church materials. Keeping a church going takes much time and effort by all. We have documentation of ladies fundraising for pews and carpet, as well as time on their knees not only praying but also stitching it together.
The homecoming service continued with many historic details. Other traditional songs and Psalm 24 and Ephesians 1:3-14 were included before the sermon entitled, Light on the Hill, encouraging all that follow Christ to shine His light clearly from the hill.
The sounds that ring from St. James truly demonstrate how the light of Christ shines in magnificent ways, through talented musicians.
Historic details of St. James and Central City can be gathered from the visitors Center in Central City.